You might wonder why coffee blends are so popular. To understand this, we need to consider the flavour of speciality coffee. High-quality coffee is a drink whose taste varies a great deal, depending on the conditions in which it was grown, processed and roasted. You’ll find that coffees from certain parts of the world come with a flavour profile that’s distinct from those grown elsewhere. This is so for a few reasons, the most notable being that some countries share the same climate and landscape, and that migration between countries helps coffee-making methods and training to spread from one to the other.
As well as varying by location, coffees also tend to vary as time goes by. Coffee-growing seasons occur at different times of the year depending on where you are in the world. Moreover, the climate in the same location might vary with the seasons, and so each single-origin espresso you enjoy will be slightly different from the last (it might even be very different!).
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Coffee blends: the importance of consistency
If you’re a coffee aficionado, then you might appreciate the subtle differences between each lot, and savour them every time. But what does this mean if you happen to love your coffee a certain way? That’s where blends come in. With the help of blends, cafes are able to create a consistent, dependable drink that can please the maximum amount of people, and take into consideration a myriad of factors, including mouthfeel, aroma, aftertaste, acidity, smoothness and bitterness.
Blends are the work of coffee experts with finely-tuned palates, who’ll tweak the proportions of their blend constantly in order to achieve that all-important consistency. Some blends have been around for decades, and they’re now concocted completely differently (though the taste of the resulting drink will have remained largely the same).
Is coffee blended before or after roasting?
There is some dispute in the world of blended coffee concerning whether it’s better to roast beans before or after blending them. If roasting before, we’re able to finely tune the flavours of the individual beans, allowing greater scope for experimentation. Moreover, the size, density and moisture content of a bean will influence the speed at which it roasts, and so separate roasting can help to achieve consistency when roasting totally different beans.
That said, roasting everything at the same time can help the flavours of the different beans to mingle with one another, and thereby create a more consistent whole. Thus, there is no real ‘correct’ answer, here – different methods will suit different blends.
Should I buy a blend or a single-origin?
Obviously, the sort of coffee you most enjoy will depend on your personal taste. But appreciating some of the more subtle single-origin coffees can be something of a challenge – tasting all of the strengths and weaknesses will require a period of acclimatisation.
If you’d like a consistent, dependable drink that can be relied upon every morning, then a blend will provide exactly that. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to appreciate the vast spectrum of flavours that coffee can offer, then you’ll find an array of wonderful single-origin coffees listed elsewhere on this site.
Traditionally blends have been favoured for espresso drinkers and single origin coffee enjoyed by those drinking filter coffee. However, in recent years lines are beginning to blur. We’ve had some blends that work just as well for filter as espresso, and single origin espresso is a growing trend in speciality coffee. It’s all about finding coffee that you love, so try it out!